Dialogue

I meant to post this before the election, and didn’t get a chance. But it’s equally relevant now, as there is a lot of gloating and glowering going around. I think we’ve all gotten tired of and perhaps been guilty of partisan snarking instead of actual dialogue. Four years ago President Barack Obama made a lot of people think he was going to put away childish things, as the scripture says (which he referenced), and get to bipartisan work.

This didn’t happen. Among the many factors, count his inexperience (and fewer favors to call in) and the Republican desire to recapture the White House, which led to Senator Mitch McConnell making that borderline treasonous statement about his only goal being the defeat of Obama.

In the last few days we’ve had a taste of that dreamed-for 2008 sunniness. Like how Chris Christie and Obama have been walking around New Jersey, getting to first base with each other. It’s unfortunate that it takes such devastation to get us to remember that we mostly want the same things. Can’t we just spontaneously remember that?

Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy has also showed us the opposite of togetherness. You’ve probably heard the story of Glenda Moore, the Staten Island mother who lost her two boys. She knocked on doors for help as the waters rose, but was turned away. “I don’t know you,” said one person.

What sobers me about this is knowing that while I would like to think I’d help in this situation, I can’t be sure. And the truth is, for worse more than better, there are certain kinds of people with whom I am more comfortable, to whom I am more likely to offer help, for whom I will more readily open my doors. If Glenda Moore and her boys had been white?

Oof.

But here is one small effort in helping us remember that those across the aisle from us aren’t a bunch of drooling bigots or rabid socialists. I asked some friends of mine to write why they would be supporting Mitt Romney. I wasn’t baiting them or preparing to hold them up to ridicule. I was, and am, curious. Only one person took the time to really lay out his rationale. I share it here. I was surprised to see how much I agree with the sentiment behind it. I personally think those feelings could still lead someone to support Obama, but that’s interesting in itself – telling me that we support different people not because we have these wildly different views, but because we believe different men will do a better job at the same things.

So here it is, if you want to take a moment to pause and reflect, post-election. Obama said we are not as divided as this election has made us believe. I agree.

First things first, I don’t particularly like Romney. Paul Ryan has big ideas, but I’m not sure that they will ever see the light of day. So it isn’t really Romney or Ryan that I support.

You see, my family moved to the United States from the Soviet Union 22 years ago to escape religious persecution and find economic freedom. My parents took enormous risks because they wanted for their children what they could not have themselves.

Just over two decades later, my father is a successful leader in business and in the community. Three of my siblings are Georgia Tech grads, in industrial, aerospace, and civil engineering.

My point is that I am a firm believer in the American Dream, in the idea that those who come here legally, like we did, who work hard, follow the rules, avoid shortcuts, and live below their means, can reinvent themselves and experience success on a level that is literally impossible in most of the world.

I also believe that the United States is quickly becoming a nanny state, where effort, not results is what counts. We give out awards for participating in stead of winning. We are an entitled generation that believes we are due that for which we did not work.

And our government is more then willing to give us what we want but have not earned. Entitlement programs and social welfare all have a place in society and that is to help those who legitimately can not help themselves. These programs are not supposed to be a crutch for those who are unwilling to work hard.

That sounds cruel, but if my parents can move here in their late 20’s without knowing the language and go from living in a basement with a popcorn machine for heater to building a nice house in a prestigious neighborhood, all in the span of a decade, then those who were born here, learned the language from birth, and had the opportunity to get an education and work hard, well they don’t have much of an excuse to stand on.

Therefore, when our government continues to make excuses for this growing segment of our population and demands that successful people, people like you and me, people like our parents, pay our “fair share,” it makes me sick. We do pay our fair share. We go to school, study hard, and make good grades and good decisions. We work 65+ hours a week to be competitive in a global economy. We take financial risks to launch our own businesses or fund others’ ideas. We give generously to our community and to those in need. And when we reap the fruit of our labor, we are villeinized for our success.

I’m supporting Romney and Ryan not because I like them, or because I agree with them on every issue, but because I think the American Dream is dying. It isn’t dying for a lack of opportunity though. It is being smothered by the very politicians we elect to represent us. Now I don’t think that the Republican ticket will reverse this course. I’m not that foolish or naive. I do believe, however, that compared to the current administration, Romney and Ryan will at least slow the damage.

If you’d like to leave a comment in reply, please do so thoughtfully and politely.

Both sides are now giving lip service to the idea of cooperation, as we approach the so-called fiscal cliff. But we need to hold their feet to the compromise fire. For me, hearing from my un-like-minded friends helps inspire me to do so.